Sunday, November 29

The First Sunday of Advent

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. It the beginning of a rich season of anticipation and preparation.

For centuries Christians have used the month prior to the celebration of Christ’s incarnation to ready their hearts and their homes for the great festival. While we moderns tend to do a good bit of bustling about in the crowded hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas--shopping for presents, compiling guest lists, mailing holiday greeting cards, perusing catalogs, decorating hearth and home, baking favorite confections, and getting ready for one party after another--this hardly constitutes the kind of preparation Advent calls for.

Indeed, traditionally Advent has been a time of quiet introspection, personal examination, and repentance. It is a time to slow down, to take stock of the things that matter the most, and to do a thorough inner housecleaning. Advent is, as the earliest Christians asserted, a Little Pascha--a time of fasting, prayer, confession, and reconciliation.

All the great Advent stories, hymns, customs, and rituals--from the medieval liturgical antiphons and Scrooge’s Christmas Carol to the lighting of Advent candles and the eating of Martinmas beef are attuned to this notion: that the best way to prepare for the coming of the Lord is to make straight His pathway in our hearts.


Bonnie said...

Could you suggest some good Advent books besides Christmas Spirit?!!

gileskirk said...

Bonnie: Here are a few:

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas, edited by Nancy Guthrie

Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle

Pursuing the Christ: 31 Morning and Evening Prayers for Advent, by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Robin M. said...

Hey Dr. Grant,

I did a bit of research on Phyllis Tickle and she seems to be associated with the Emergent Church movement. Were you aware of that?